Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How to win an election

Commentary : How to win an election

By Denis Murphy
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: February 16, 2009

AT a forum last week of the National Institute for Policy Studies, an American visitor who worked in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign shared insights about the campaign. He said the spirit of the whole campaign was based on community organizing (CO). He reminded people that Obama was a great admirer of the late Saul Alinsky, the father of modern urban organizing, and that Obama himself had served for three years after college as a community organizer in a small organization that traced its roots to Alinsky.

The visitor, Jo Hansen, moved on to other topics, but some of us who work in community organizing decided to look into the matter. How did CO elect a president? Can the CO approach help elect a president here?

In Iowa, the first of the primaries, and arguably the most important one for a relatively unknown candidate, Obama and his people set up an entirely new campaign structure. They ignored the existing Democratic Party structure (maybe they felt it already leaned toward Hillary Clinton or John Edwards) and built their own organization from the neighborhood level up, the bottom-up approach. This is what COs are supposed to do when they enter a community where the leadership structure is not pro poor.

Obama’s team recruited the best of the people who came to their campaign office to volunteer. They were from all types of neighborhoods, rich, middle-income and poor, but they all knew everything about their own neighborhoods and they were full of energy. None of them was connected to the regular Democratic Party structure. The Obama team gave the volunteers room to act as they thought best; they appointed as supervisors those neighborhood volunteers who worked the hardest and showed the most ingenuity. The whole structure from bottom to top was informal and personal. In the end the volunteers outworked the veterans of the other candidates.

Obama got far more money from ordinary Americans than any other candidate, because he made special efforts to ask them to help. In the end he had money in small amounts from 2.5 million people. Each of these donors became in some ways a campaign worker as donors always do: they want to make sure their money isn’t wasted. Imagine 2.5 million volunteer campaigners. CO has always worked best when it gets the money for its activities from the people.

Hansen discussed the sources of Obama’s campaign platform. He said the candidate felt it was the essence of democracy to find out what the people wanted and then make it part of his platform. There is nothing wrong in basing one’s actions on what polls tell a candidate the people want. As Obama went along, he found the demand for change was the overriding wish of the people, so that became the motif: “Change. Yes we can.” CO regularly gets its issues from the people. The alternative to such an approach is to come to the people with a platform entirely worked out in advance by a party or the powerful or some technocrats.

Finally Obama paid poor people who took a day off from work to help him. He had more poor people working for him than anyone else.

Can these emphases of Obama and community organizing help a candidate win here in 2010? The essential thing, according to Hansen, is that the candidate must be able to make the big majority of people, who in the Philippines are poor or what can be called near-poor, believe the candidate cares what happens to them and shares their values. To share their values and care for the poor and near-poor, the “D” and “E” categories of the pollsters, the candidate must get to know them as well as Obama did in his three years in Chicago’s slums. He or she must visit the poor, learn their issues, talk about those issues and champion those issues or demands.

The candidate who travels this path will be outside the existing party structures, and will have to put together from the bottom up his or her own campaign structure as Obama did in Iowa. The candidate, like Obama, should pick the best people outside the existing political structures, people from all income levels but mostly from the poor and near-poor. The candidate should give them freedom and exploit their ingenuity, let them be themselves, give them room, and let them be creative.

He or she would do well to seek the money needed from the poor and near-poor and from well-off people who believe in reform as Obama did. In this regard Hansen downplayed the value of TV and other costly campaigning techniques. The biggest influence on a voter in the United States is a person’s peers, he said, not TV or the press. In the Philippines it’s family and church (or mosque and temple), according to an Ateneo de Manila Institute of Philippine Culture study of influences on voters in the 2001 election. This means, it seems, that the candidate must early on convince core groups of the poor and near-poor and reformers, and the Church and other religious leaders, that he or she really shares their values and is deeply concerned about their welfare. The campaign will only succeed if the candidate truly does share those values and concerns. If the candidate can do this, the message will spread. Witness the success of Corazon Aquino in 1986.

CO and the form of campaigning Obama championed are good examples of democracy in action. It could work here.


Denis Murphy works with the Urban Poor Associates. His e-mail address is upa@pldtdsl.net.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Urban Poor Group Seeks Clarification of Supreme Court Ruling

** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE **

Urban Poor Group Seeks Clarification of Supreme Court Ruling

16 February 2009. Several urban poor communities have decided to seek clarification from the Supreme Court regarding its ruling in cleaning up Manila Bay that seems to give license to government agencies, particularly the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), to demolish their dwellings found along the banks of Pasig River and its tributaries.

The communities have sought the assistance of St. Thomas More Law Center of the Urban Poor Associates (UPA) and the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (Saligan) to act as their counsel in a motion for clarification before the Supreme Court which will be filed Monday (February 16) morning.

In its decision on MMDA vs. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay, et. al (SC GR. Nos. 171947-48), the Court mandates and authorizes the demolition of structures, houses of the urban poor included, as an integral process of cleaning the Manila Bay, without mentioning the obligation of the implementing agencies to observe the need for consultation and relocation in a humane manner as required by law.

Under Republic Act 7279 also known as the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992 (more popularly known as the Lina Law), families who live in the so called danger zones may be relocated and their homes may be demolished provided that they are given adequate relocation after a process of consultation and dialogue.

This clarification from the court is urgently needed because the usual practice of MMDA is to demolish dwellings without giving notice and doing away with consultation, and without providing adequate relocation.

In fact, MMDA practices summary demolition based on the Building Code and the provision on summary demolition under the Civil Code.

MMDA has rendered thousands of urban poor families homeless, some of whom are now literally living in the streets with their children and elderly, exposed to the elements.

The number of families estimated to be directly affected by this court ruling is about 70,000.

While the communities have no legal standing to question the decision as they are not a party to the case, they have sought a prior leave of court to be allowed to seek clarification on the manner of executing and implementing the decision.

They will be directly affected if the government agencies, particularly the MMDA should interpret the decision as an order to demolish and destroy their dwellings without observing the people’s right to notice, consultation and relocation, among others.

Aside from UPA, other movants are housing rights NGOs such as the Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE), Kabalikat sa Pagpapaunlad ng Baseco (Kabalikat), Ugnayang Lakas ng mga Apektadong Pamilya sa Baybaying Ilog Pasig (ULAP) and residents along Radial 10 (R-10) Boulevard in Tondo, Manila. -30-

Saturday, February 14, 2009

MEDIA ADVISORY: Urban Poor Group Seeks Clarification of Supreme Court Ruling in Cleaning Up Manila Bay

Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists

MEDIA ADVISORY

Urban Poor Group Seeks Clarification of Supreme Court Ruling in Cleaning Up Manila Bay

Due to the threats of demolitions and forced evictions, several urban poor community leaders are set to take up a legal battle on Monday (February 16) as they seek clarification from the Supreme Court with its ruling in cleaning up Manila Bay.

Several urban poor communities in Metro Manila have sought the assistance of St. Thomas More Law Center of the Urban Poor Associates (UPA) and the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (Saligan) to act as their counsel in a motion for clarification before the Supreme Court.

The urban poor movants in this motion for clarification will accompany the lawyers to the Supreme Court on Monday at 10:00 AM. After the filing they will give a press con outside the court.

The Supreme Court ruling seems to give license to government agencies, particularly the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), to demolish their dwellings found along the banks of Pasig River and its tributaries.

In its decision on MMDA vs. Concerned Residents of Manila Bay, et. al (SC GR. Nos. 171947-48), the Court mandates and authorizes the demolition of structures, houses of the urban poor included, as an integral process of cleaning the Manila Bay, without mentioning the obligation of the implementing agencies to observe the need for consultation and relocation in a humane manner as required by law.

This clarification from the court is urgently needed because the usual practice of MMDA is to demolish dwellings without giving notice and doing away with consultation, and without providing adequate relocation.

According to UPA, the number of families estimated to be directly affected by this court ruling is about 70,000.

Date: February 16, 2009 (Monday) / 10:00 AM

Venue: Supreme Court

Download: MOTION FOR CLARIFICATION OF PRONOUNCEMENTS OF THE SUPREME COURT


MOTION FOR PRIOR LEAVE



LEAVE OF COURT TO ADMIT THE ATTACHED MOTION FOR CLARIFICATION OF PRONOUNCEMENTS



News Release - Urban Poor Group Seeks Clarification of Supreme Court Ruling



Media Advisory - Urban Poor Group Seeks Clarification of Supreme Court Ruling in Cleaning Up Manila Bay

Saturday, February 07, 2009

MEDIA ADVISORY: CONFRONTATION - CHR vs. MMDA


Residents along R-10 in Tondo, Manila look on as demolition team from Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) conducts clearing operations on Feb. 3.

Attention: News Editor, News Desk, Reporters and Photojournalists

MEDIA ADVISORY

CONFRONTATION
CHR vs. MMDA

On Monday February 9 the irresistible force, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) headed by Chairperson Leila de Lima, will challenge the immovable object, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Bayani Fernando.

On the R-10 Road before Pier 10, near Moriones Street, the local residents will hold before the eviction teams of MMDA the CHR Resolution No. A2008-052, a resolution recommending the imposition of a moratorium on all evictions and demolitions.

The CHR has ordered all evictions which do not provide decent relocation to stop immediately. The MMDA since Feb. 2 has evicted families without any relocation. The two government bodies will confront one another Monday at 8:00 AM along the R-10.

The R-10 which stretches from Velasquez Street in Tondo to Lapu Lapu Street in Navotas is scheduled to be widened. Some 3,046 families by government count are in the way. NGO workers of Urban Poor Associates (UPA) and Community Organizers of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) say there are more than 10,000 families on the road. Neither MMDA nor the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which commissioned the evictions, offers relocation.

The CHR has determined eviction without relocation is a violation of the country’s laws.

Please come.

Where: R-10 Tondo, before Pier 10, near Moriones Street

Date: February 9, 2009 (Monday) / 8:00 AM

Monday, February 02, 2009

Urban Poor Nagpahayag Ng Suporta Sa Panukalang Ordinansa Para Sa Moratorium ng Demolisyon, Ebiksyon



Walang nagawa ang isang matandang babae na residente ng Old Sta Mesa kundi pagmasdan na lamang ang kanyang bahay habang ginigiba ng mga tauhan ng Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) noong January 19, 2009.

** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE *** NEWS RELEASE **

Urban Poor Nagpahayag Ng Suporta Sa Panukalang Ordinansa Para Sa Moratorium ng Demolisyon, Ebiksyon

2 February 2008 / Quezon City. Dahil sa mga sunud-sunod na banta ng mararahas at di- makataong demolisyon, lumapit ang iba’t ibang grupo ng maralitang tagalungsod sa Konseho ng Quezon City upang hilingin na magkaroon ng ordinansa na naglalayong magkaroon ng moratorium sa walang humpay na panggigiba na wala namang sapat na konsultasyon at maayos na relokasyon.

Kaugnay nito, nagpahayag ng suporta ang mga grupo ng maralitang tagalungsod sa panukalang magkaroon ng moratorium sa demolisyon habang dinidinig ang naturang ordinansa.

Nakatakdang dinggin bukas (February 3) ng Quezon City Council sa Carlos Albert Hall ang naturang ordinansa sa isang public hearing na pangungunahan ng Committee on Laws, Rules and Internal Government at ng Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Bilang pagsuporta, ang public hearing ay dadaluhan ng iba’t ibang grupo ng urban poor sector kabilang ang mga non-government organizations tulad ng Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), Community Organization of the Philippines Enterprise (COPE), Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN) at Partnership of Philippine Support Agencies (PHILSSA).

Ang naturang ordinansa ay pagtugon sa rekomendasyon ng Commision on Human Rights (CHR) Resolution # A2008-052 na nag-aatas sa mga Local Government Units na magkaroon ng moratorium sa ebiksyon at demolisyon ng mga bahay ng maralitang tagalungsod upang pangalagaan ang karapatan sa disenteng tahanan ng mga ito.

“Ang naturang panukalang ordinansa ay hindi pangungunsinti sa mga informal settlers bagkus ay siyang magsisiguro sa makataong proseso katulad ng konsultasyon, sapat na relokasyon at iba pang mga pangangailangan na isinasaad sa Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA),” ayon kay Veronica Magpantay, coordinator ng Riverside Coordinating Council ng Ugnayang Lakas ng mga Apektadong Pamilya sa Baybaying Ilog Pasig (RCC-ULAP), isang peoples’ organization.

“Ang karapatang pantao ng bawat nilalang ay hindi dapat nako-kompromiso sa interes lamang ng iilan bagkus sa interes dapat ng nakararami. Ang mga maralitang tagalungsod ay mga lehitimong Pilipinong walang sariling lupa sa kaniyang sariling bayan. Karapatan din nilang ipaglaban ang kanilang dignidad bilang tao,” sinabi ni Magpantay.

“Kung walang maralitang tagalungsod, walang mga manggagawa, taxi drivers, magbabantay ng mga kotse (parking attendant), mangangalahig ng basura at iba pa. Marami rin sa mga nagtatrabaho sa gubyerno ay galing sa maralitang tagalungsod. Wala bang utang na loob ang bansang ito?” dagdag pa ni Magpantay.

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